Monday, July 28, 2014

Célèste's Review of S1E1 "Pilot"

Gilmore Girls "Pilot"

Season 1, Episode 1
Original airing: October 5, 2000

My Rating: 
62 (I attempted to judge it against episodes in general, rather than what’s expected for a pilot.)

The Good: 
  • The jokes and characters are already there so early. Amazing how well established the whole world is right down to relationships and ancillary characters. 
  • The plot is simple, interesting, and makes me want to see more: what will Chilton be like? How will future Friday-night dinners go? What will happen with Rory and Dean? Is there something happening between Luke and Lorelai?
  • Some of the establishing knowledge was slipped very well into character-motivated dialogue. E.g.: the fight about Lorelai leaving home at sixteen. 
  • Since I mostly remember being annoyed by Dean (primarily in later seasons), I was pleasantly surprised to find him super charming in the Pilot. His story of Rory reading undistracted while a guy got hit in the face with a football was great, and it established that he likes Rory because she's different, not just because she's pretty. Rory's awkwardness around Dean was so cute, especially when she responded to the mention of Chicago with "Windy...Oprah," when she rambled about her birth story, ending with, "I don't normally talk this much," and when she told Dean she'd timed the journey to Hartford, oblivious to the oddness of that fact. 
The Bad: 
  • Some dialogue and some whole scenes seemed only to exists to establish knowledge. The first Sookie scene: did it need to be there at all or could it have been tied in with the other Sookie scene? Also, did we need the scene of Rory still mad at the inn when it was immediately followed by her being mad on the doorstep?
  • Rory: "You know how your mom doesn’t like you listening to rock music? You know how she doesn’t like me?" Lane: "Yes, Rory, we both know these things about my mother. Why are verbally establishing basic facts about my life? It's really unnecessary when there's a whole scene at my house that doesn't further the plot at all, but instead introduces my mom through the handy tool of show-don't-tell."
  • Although I am a fan of Alex Borstein, and I do think she was funny in this, the harpist doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Couldn’t a gag played for laughs at least relate to the plot in some way. These scenes felt tacked on. Some of the Michel stuff felt a bit tacked on too, but at least it established a major character. I wonder if Della was originally planned as a major character. 
  • The cool-mom mother-daughter dynamic was almost 100% there, but there were a couple moments that felt like someone's idea of a cool-mom, rather than the specific nuanced relationship Lorelai and Rory have. Specifically, I thought it was awkward when Rory asked Lorelai if she was happy because she'd done something slutty. In later episodes, Rory presents a healthy "ick" response to the idea of her mom having sex. A mother and daughter can be close while still having some boundaries. I think the boundaries the show establishes in future episodes help make their relationship seem more real.
Favorite Moment: 
Zooming out to reveal a lightbulb-lined window framing their “little corner of the world”: a table for two at Luke's is the perfect way to set the tone for the whole series, and a beautiful image at that. 

The Bottom Line: 
This episode has a few problems common to pilots: clunky establishing moments, a few things that don’t quite fit what the show later becomes (the harpist, Emily’s bad haircut), but is overall one of the best pilots I’ve seen, with a fully developed world, story, and set of characters. I’m hooked from the beginning, and I want to see more. When recommending Gilmore Girls, there is no need to say things like, “you’ve got to watch until episode three for it to get good,” which is something I often find myself saying about other shows. 

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